Arts & Culture

The Marie Kondo Effect Is Sweeping The Country — And Its Closets

Written by Timothy Werth

The latest Netflix hit isn’t a nail-biting crime thriller or a laugh out loud comedy, but a serene home/life improvement show hosted by organization expert Marie Kondo. Released on New Year’s Day, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is inspiring viewers to clean out their closets one object at a time.

The eight-episode series follows Kondo as she and a Japanese interpreter travel throughout the United States from home to home, helping overwhelmed families regain control over their messes. The series is based on Kondo’s hugely popular book released in English nearly five years ago, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

The tidying effect has even jumped through book pages and TV screens and into the lives of viewers. Since the show’s release, thrift stores and secondhand shops have seen an uptick in donations that could be due to Kondo’s influence. As reported in The New Yorker, the donation line at one Beacon’s Closet location in New York City stretched through the store.

“I bet all these people saw the show. Have you seen the Kondo show? Is that why everyone is here?” a seemingly overwhelmed male clerk at the Greenpoint location asked one customer.

Despite the telling lines, it is difficult to determine if the enthusiasm for donating is solely a side effect of Kondo’s popularity. Thrift stores typically see people lugging boxes of used goods out of their homes as part of their new year resolutions. In fact, American used goods often see a new life in developing nations, as over 14.3 million tons of donated American textiles help clothe people across the world.

However, 2019 already seems to differ from years past. According to Leah Giampetro, a Beacon’s Closet store manager, January is usually the thrift store’s slow season because people don’t want to bother with donations in freezing temperatures. In Chicago, Ravenswood Used Books has received a month’s worth of donated books in just one week.

No matter where the donation surge originated, Marie Kondo’s method is certainly effective. Find the tips below that have been inspiring unorganized and clutter-ridden people across the country to tidy up.

The KonMari Method

Kondo bases her organizing strategy, dubbed KonMari, on one simple concept: Joy.

To start decluttering the Kondo way, you tackle your possessions by category rather than by room. Begin with clothes, then move on to books, then paper, then miscellaneous items, and last sentimental items. With each category, you make a large pile of your objects and hold them one at a time. As you hold the item, you ask yourself “Does this spark joy?”

If you feel joy, you keep the item. If you don’t, you thank the object and place it in your donation bin. Kondo admits the process is time-consuming, but humans have been keeping time for 5,000 to 6,000 years. What is a day — or a week, or a month — spent making your home a more pleasant place to live in the face of millennia?

The most revolutionary part of the KonMari method isn’t the joy or the gratitude or even the shift in how you view time. Kondo never pressures her clients to get rid of more than they want to or judges them on what sparks joy. She allows people to feel however they need to about their prized possessions and focuses her boundless energy on tidying what’s left.

About the author

Timothy Werth